New federal travel restrictions to have marginal impact at YQR International Airport

The new travel restrictions the federal government added Friday didn’t come as a surprise to the Regina International Airport.

The new measures led to the cancelation of flights from sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico until April 30. It also requires returning international flights to land in either Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Calgary, and must receive a COVID-19 test upon arrival. Travelers will then have to pay for hotel accommodations while they wait for those test results to come back, which could take up to three days.

President and CEO James Bogusz says it will have a marginal impact because YQR is currently only serving Canadian travel hubs.

“Typically this time of year, we would see anywhere between 24-27 daily departures going to the US, into Mexico, and to the Caribbean, as well as of course many Canadian hubs,” Bogusz said. “Since COVID-19 and all of these restrictions over the past number of months — I guess it’s getting onto 10 months now — we’ve seen a massive erosion in demand.”

Bogusz says YQR has carefully watched how Air Canada and WestJet would respond to the measures.

“Ultimately, they’re the ones who are flying the aircraft, and they have responded by suggesting they will no longer be offering service into some of these destinations until the end of April,” Bogusz said. “If you were traveling to Calgary (from Regina) to connect to one of those flights, if those flights are no longer available, you’ll likely be cancelling your plans, or your plans will be cancelled for you.”

Bogusz says staffing levels at YQR have decreased by 30 percent and their capital campaign to “next to nothing” since the pandemic hit Canada roughly 10 months ago.

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